• August 20, 2009
  • 13

Kung Fu and Stuff

For reasons I tend to think are unwarranted, America’s 1stSgt kind of has a reputation among the Marines of the battalion. Mostly I figure it’s because I swagger around with my knuckles dragging on ground like a silver-back gorilla baring my fangs at any young Marine that crosses my path. I also kill myself in order to run faster, jump higher, and generally out perform any of them physically (there may be a few that have my number though).

Thanks to the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program (MCMAP) and Ultimate Knuckle-dragger Championship, Marines are enamored with grappling. This is fine as I generally endorse any activity that is tough and physically demanding.

Now I could really care less about grappling. I have some familiarity with it having trained with jujitsu types before and as a MCMAP instructor myself. According to the Marine Corps, the purpose of grappling techniques is to allow you to get back to your feet to gain the tactical advantage over your opponent. The tactical advantage is you get to put the boots to the guy on the deck. May I add that kicking people while they are down is a perfectly legitimate and honorable technique designed to achieve victory on the battlefield.

I mean really, the only reason I can conceive of for rolling around on the deck with someone is to hold him down long enough for five of my friends to show up and beat him down with axe handles.

Of course the whole problem with having a reputation is that there is always some youngster who wants to test his skills. Usually I hear the challenge in this form:

“You wanna grapple 1stSgt?”
 Or …
“1stSgt, I’d like to roll with you some time.”
In a culture where physical capability is a measure of credibility this kind of thing has to be dealt with convincingly. My battalion commander usually gives me disapproving looks if I grab a Marine by his throat and crotch and hurl him through the windshield of the nearest HMMV. So my responses tend to be less physically violent. Quite frankly, there are a number of Marines in the battalion that could wipe the floor with me on the mat or in the ring. This would have to do with the fact that combative sports and combative killing are two wildly divergent events.

As coolly as I can I explain to the eager volunteer that as America’s 1stSgt I can lose, but I may not lose. Thus I will do those things that it takes to achieve victory on the mat and will only entertain “grappling” if the Marine is willing to endure what I am ready to do to him. Much like Ric Flair, I have to be the dirtiest player in the game.

They are usually convinced when I am conducting weapons training of some kind and we are cleaning each other’s clocks.

Now as far as I’m concerned weapons use is where it’s at. When’s the last time you ever heard of a caveman putting a saber-tooth cat in a wrist lock? In my files you can find America’s 1stSgt’s thoughts on alligator wrestling under the heading: STUPID. Greek hoplites did not engage the Persians on a wrestling mat. They stood shoulder to shoulder thrusting spears into the enemy and ground Xerxes’ army into the mud. I am completely on board with that scenario.

In any given one on one engagement scenario you have a 33% chance of survival. Either the other guy is better than you are; so you die. You are better than he is; he dies (my preference). Or you are equally skilled and you both die. So how do I maximize my 33%? I pick up a brick and get to work. It’s all about mindset and what you are trying to accomplish. 

 I get comments about the look on my face in photos like these. Some want to know where that intensity comes from. It comes from the fact that in my mind I am thinking about killing someone. The exercises we are using here are more about what your brain is doing than what your body is. Bayonets, knives, e-tools, firearms, it’s really all the same thing.Of course, training Marines doesn’t mean I always get the best of it at their expense…

 Usually a few rounds of bayonet action with me is a convincer. Maybe rolling around on the ground with the 1stSgt isn’t the best health care plan.

Semper Fidelis,
America’s 1stSgt

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  1. Why not just pull you sidearm and shoot the sob? Or put a couple of rocks in a sock and go upside his head? Or kick him in the nuts and push his nose back into his brain? Or better yet, sit down over a cold beer and discuss our differences. That one was straight out of Berkley.

  2. I like to think that there are certain instances where humor has possibly saved a persons life from a ‘Kung Fu’ chop to the throat. Would you agree? or would that be completelly outside of warfare?

  3. Top,
    Great stuff. We started getting “ground grappling” training in law enforcement several years ago. Somebody finally figured out that most of the times when we got into street fights, we ended up on the ground…duh. So now we’re training cops to avoid getting on the ground, but if you end up there, how to fight.
    But we don’t train to kill.

    Then…a few years ago the Army started grappling training…a little good stuff there…but I have to switch gears from trying to arrest somebody to trying to kill somebody–depending on what uniform I have on that day.
    It’s enough to make a person crazy…
    I’m glad my dad taught me Judo growing up…I just fall back on that training for any fight.
    Keep up keeping the young Jar Heads trained for war.

  4. 1st Sgt, there is definitely a difference in fighting to fight and fighting to win… personally, if I am going to get into a fight I have to be mad enough to win which means dirty tactics and victory

  5. “That one was straight out of Berkley.”

    Nah…it would be: “Lets go and smoke a joint and have some great wine I know about.”

    Don’t go…!

    Papa Ray
    West Texas

  6. Coffee, in training we go through multiple scenarios. The idea is thatthe mindset for gouging through someone’s eyeballs into their brain stemwith your fingers is the same as the mindset for sock with a brick init; is the same as steady trigger control; is the same as calmly givinggrid coordinates over the radio to an artillery battery. Besides, inside20 feet you are never going to get your side arm unholstered before Iclose the distance and plunge a knife into your eye. I mean, not YOUReye but you know what I mean.

    Wrexie, the survivors get to decide what is funny. Humor never savedanyone at Auschwitz. Cracking jokes didn’t save anyone on Pan Am flight103 over Lockerbie either. Terrorist cells living amongst us wereexposed to American humor for years; I guess they didn’t find us veryfunny.

  7. CI Roller, sad fact of the matter is I have not seen anyone rollingaround on the ground in combat yet. Not that it isn’t good to befamiliar with but in the history of warfare there have never been wholearmies flopping down on their backs in the guard. Grappling is an ok training tool physically but it isn’t training for combative mindset.Judo appeals to me because I kind of like the idea of hitting someonewith the sidewalk.

    Red, when you are fighting to the death emotions don’t have a thing todo with it. I prefer the concept of remaining cool enough to win.Although I do approve of dirty tactics and will always approve ofvictory.

    Papa Ray, come on now, hippies are people too. 😉

    Akelamalu, you don’t have to be intense. You could just sit there.

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